NSW Health is urging people to be alert for signs and symptoms of measles after a young woman became the 30th person infectious with the highly-contagious disease in NSW since Christmas.
The woman likely acquired the infection while in the waiting room of an Eastwood medical practice in mid-March where she was at the same time as an infectious patient who developed measles after returning from Thailand.
Before the woman was diagnosed she spent time in the following locations while infectious:
NSW Health Director of Communicable Diseases Dr Vicky Sheppeard said that while those places do not pose an ongoing risk, people who may be susceptible to measles and were present at the above locations at the same time, should contact their local public health unit for advice on 1300 066 055.
The local public health unit has contacted the medical practice to directly follow up other patients who were present at the same time as the young woman, and offer preventive treatment as appropriate.
People who have spent time in the same locations at the same times as the woman should be alert for signs and symptoms of measles until 19 April 2019, as it can take up to 18 days for symptoms to appear following exposure to a person with measles.
Preventive injections can be given to highly-susceptible people up to six days after exposure to measles. Symptoms of measles include fever, sore eyes and a cough followed three or four days later by a red, blotchy rash spreading from the head and neck to the body.
“If you develop symptoms, please call ahead to your GP to ensure you do not wait in the waiting room with other patients,” Dr Sheppeard said.
“The measles-mumps-rubella vaccine is safe and effective protection against measles. It’s free for anyone born during or after 1966 who hasn’t already had two doses. If you’re unsure whether you’ve had two doses, it’s safe to have another.”
Measles is highly contagious and is spread in the air through coughing or sneezing by someone who is unwell with the disease.
While the risk of infection is low in fully-vaccinated people, health experts urge anyone who comes into contact with someone who has measles to remain alert for symptoms. They should limit their exposure to others and seek medical care if symptoms develop. Two doses of measles vaccine provides lifelong protection in 99 out of 100 people who are vaccinated.
Protecting children from potentially deadly diseases is a key priority for the NSW Government, which has invested approximately $130 million in the 2018-19 Immunisation Program budget, including Commonwealth and state vaccines. The latest Annual Immunisation Coverage Report shows vaccination rates in NSW are at their highest level ever, with more than 95pt of five year olds vaccinated against measles.
For more information visit Measles.